By Peter Argent
Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association’s Willaston and South Gawler football clubs recognised the great contribution of their Indigenous players with a wonderful day of celebration ahead of NAIDOC Week 2021.
The significant Round 12 Indigenous match on Saturday, July 3 included the local football and netball fraternity, with acknowledgement throughout the day to our First Nations’ culture.
The senior men’s football and women’s netball teams were involved in a special Welcome to Country on the Eldred Riggs Reserve oval.
The South Gawler Indigenous football jumper was designed by Jason Tippins (the club’s A grade runner), a proud Garawa man from Borroloola in the Northern Territory and his son, Jordan. Tippins also performed an Acknowledgement of Country on the day.
Shaun Childs played a key role in designing the vibrant Willaston jumper.
To add to the celebrations, all the senior netball teams wore unique Indigenous team bibs.
“It was a great day to be a part of, and be involved in,” said South Gawler FC co-captain Josh Wittwer, one the three Indigenous players in the Lions senior squad, along with Jordan Tippins and Clayton Cameron.
“It is credit to both clubs and Shaun Childs for the work they put in to make it all possible.
“The events on the day and the designs of both guernseys made it very special…I was proud to be a part of it.
“It was special for all the Indigenous lads playing on the day, as well as those who were unable to play.”
The Indigenous contingent in the Willaston side for this clash included former Port and North Adelaide footballer Michael Clinch, mercurial midfielder Isaya McKenzie, who had time at Central District and returned to his foundation club this year, North Adelaide reserves footballer Terrell Rigney and Childs. Another local Indigenous talent, speedy link-up player Lee Sutton, couldn’t be considered for selection due to injury.
The A grade game itself was an absolute thriller.
Willaston, coached by SA Football Hall of Famer and dual Magarey Medallist Andrew Jarman, dominated the first three quarters, leading the contest by five goals at three quarter time against the competition ladder leaders.
This lead increased to 37 points early in the final stanza, when Donnybrooks’ captain and former Adelaide Crows top up player Tyson Irlam kicked his third major.
South, coached by former Central District footballer and assistant coach to Roy Laird, Gavin Chaplin, charged back into the contest.
One of the leading players in the competition, Patrick White, took a mark late in the game, but his shot to level the game hit the post.
Enter 14-year A grade veteran in 31-year-old Jackson Dare.
Dare received a free kick about 40 metres from goal, on more than a 45-degree angle at the scoreboard end in the right forward pocket.
He calmly slotted the ball through to give the Lions the smallest of leads, and after the next centre bounce the siren sounded, sparking riotous celebrations among the South players and supporters.
“I actually thought I would be a bit more nervous when I was preparing for the kick,” Dare said.
“From where we were early in the last quarter, it was one of the most satisfying wins in my time at the club.
“It was quite the way to finish off such a fantastic day for the club.
“… and yes, I had those boyhood dreams about kicking a match winner when the siren sounded.”
In preparation for this extraordinary game, the South Gawler Lions had Adelaide Crows Indigenous great Andrew McLeod speak to the juniors at the club and present the senior players with their personal Indigenous Round jumpers.
Now three games clear on top of the ladder, two thirds of the season in, the Lions are looking for a break-through first flag since Malcolm McGrath led them to success in 1993.
Willaston will also wear its Indigenous jumper in the Round 13 sponsors day clash with Barossa District at Elliot Goodger Reserve on July 17.
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